Three numbers and the Astros’ Mike Fiers steps up
The Astros win their 44th game behind another solid outing from Mike Fiers. Well, this wasn’t a sentence I expected to type three weeks ago.
Should we send Lance McCullers a fruit basket or something for fixing Mike Fiers? Following a chat about curveballs not too long ago, Fiers has transformed himself back into a quality starting pitcher. The Astros are likely thrilled with this development when you consider the rotation’s injury issues the past few weeks. Maybe they should send McCullers a fruit basket?
Enough about fruit baskets for now. The Astros have just won their league-leading 44th game of the season. They have played in just 63 games so this is worth boasting about. So, that’s something good. Houston is now on a 112-win pace, which would easily be the best record in franchise history. Only time will tell, though, if this dream is fulfilled.
Mike Fiers quite simply had his best start of the season last night.
6/10/17 Pitching line: 7.1 IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB, 8 SO, .338 WPA
This was the first time all season that Fiers went beyond six innings of work in a single game. And not allow an earned run. It was also his third straight start without allowing a single home run. Remember that he did the lead the league at one point in home runs allowed by all pitchers with 18 in total. Before you get too excited, though, he was still tied for second in that list as of yesterday. Only Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds has more entering yesterday with 20 home runs allowed. And Ricky Nolasco of the Los Angeles Angels, Fiers’ opponent last night, was tied with the Astros pitcher. Well, this will change once the leaderboards update as Nolasco allowed his 19th home run of the season last night to Brian McCann in the second inning.
In terms of WPA (Win Probability Added), Fiers easily established a season-high last night (.338 WPA). The right-hander also lowered his season ERA from 4.84 to 4.29 in this one start against the Angels. This was the type of performance that the Astros needed from their starting pitcher.
Brian McCann continues to punish opposing pitchers in the month of June.
June 2017 statistics: 26 at-bats, 3 HR, 6 RBI, .385/.414/.846, 1.260 OPS
This trend continued last night as the veteran catcher put the Astros on the board early with his 386 foot solo home run in the second inning.
The Astros offense is fortunate to have a plethora of batters that can change the game in one swing. This luxury wasn’t always existent in recent teams. Honestly, there may not be a truly weak spot in the lineup on any night when the position players are healthy enough to play.
Do I dare say that the fanbase in Houston has a love/hate relationship with Ken Giles? It sure feels this way anytime he comes into a game. I will admit, though, that the hard throwing right-hander does have the occasional blip like he did from June 2nd through June 6th when he allowed four earned runs in just three innings.
However, when Giles is on his game, it is hard to topple him.
6/10/17 Pitching line: 1 IP, BB, 3 SO, .070 WPA
Next: Astros Draft: Will signability issues push Shane Baz to the Astros?
In total, Giles threw 19 pitches in which 13 were strikes. This was the kind of effective outing he needed to build upon to make his early June struggles seem like a bad dream.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and MLB.com**